I shall start this blog by saying that I am not exactly up on my British politics. Living outside of the country and not being in the habit of reading the newspapers online, I am aware there are gaps in my knowledge and things that pass me by. But there are also things which land in my lap. For example, the EU Referendum. In fact, this landed so heavily in my lap, I actually got around to registering for a Proxy Vote (thanks Mum).
Due to the time difference, I was able to sit for hours this morning, constantly refreshing the live update feed on the BBC website and watching as the constituencies slowly turned from white to blue and yellow … and blue. And more blue. And then I stopped watching and consoled myself with an episode of QI because it reminded me that there are still intelligent people left in the world.
Feel free to disagree (politely) but here is how I see it:
The European Union was created after World War Two, drawing together countries after the shattering effect of six years of conflict. Integration was seen then, as it should be now, vital for the world to move forward into a new and better era. By working together and not being selfish, countries are better able to support both themselves, neighbours and vulnerable members of society, such as migrants displaced by conflicts etc. Until today, there were twenty-eight members of the EU. The UK joined in 1973. Together they form an internal single market, standardised laws, and policies which allow for the free movement of people, goods, and money. Sound good? Yeah, that’s what I thought. After all, isn’t it easier to work with your neighbours than against them? As a historian, I’m pretty sure that working against bordering countries has, in the past, led to invasions, bloody battles, and the destruction of civilian lives. But perhaps I misunderstood every single lecture I’ve ever been in …
I get that the system is flawed. I get that the EU cannot please everyone because there are, as mentioned, twenty-eight members. People thought the UK was getting a raw deal because we have a higher GDP and therefore support smaller countries at times. Oh, hang on, there are twenty-seven members. Sorry, I keep forgetting the UK has gone mad. But why did over seventeen million people vote to leave? What were some of Brexit’s arguments?
- The EU threatens British sovereignty – basically the EU bureaucracy in Brussels has too much power and can, at times, override national laws, so in theory we are powerless. In Theory.
- The regulations are a burden on the UK – ridiculous figures here were bounced around about how much the British economy suffers because of these regulations (£600 million each week, Gove? Really?) The idea was that if we didn’t have to conform, trading could become cheaper and therefore companies would make more money. Regulations must now be formed between the UK and individual countries and I get the feeling they’re not going to be too happy about making a deal which benefits the UK. Did I mention that almost 50% of our overseas trade is done with countries within the EU?
- The EU prevents radical reforms and entrenches corporate interests – what? Hang on, isn’t that in direct conflict to the above two points? You’re saying that the EU gives too much power to businesses now? Yes, yes they are. Let’s just move on, shall we?
- The Euro is a bad idea – fine. Possibly a valid point. But we don’t have the Euro …
- The EU allows too many immigrants – this is thinly veiled xenophobia. Barely veiled. Actually, it’s just xenophobia.
- We can control our own immigration outside of the EU – true, and you’ve controlled one thing. I’m not coming back any time soon!
- The UK won’t have to pay to be in the EU – in 2014, our contribution to the EU amounted to 0.3% of our GDP. And remember that £350 million, Farage promised to spend on the NHS if Britain left? He went back on that pledge mere hours after the Leave campaign won the vote.
Well, let’s just say, I’m not really in agreement with any of those points. And in case you hadn’t guessed, I voted to REMAIN.
Which didn’t happen.
So what next?
Far right parties from France, the Netherlands and Italy have all called for their respective countries to have similar referendums. Not only is this the domino effect experts warned us about and also could spell the beginning of the end of the European Union and therefore 70 years of relative peace within Europe but also … Hitler and the Nazis were right wing! So we might now be entering an age whereby the structures put in place after the Second World War to prevent such a thing happening ever again are steadily dismantled by people with view similar to those who caused the war in the first place. Great. Well done 2016.
Oh and the value of the pound has collapsed to its lowest level since 1985. Awesome.
Now I was never a fan of David Cameron. But he did strongly back the remain campaign and I admire him for that. This result shocked even the Leave supporters. It was like they didn’t quite believe it would happen. (If only). As the entire world deals with the aftershock of this historic referendum, is even more change what we need? Cameron might not be my favourite person in the world but if the alternative is Boris Johnson, and if a certain other blonde mop arrives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in November, I’m officially starting a Crowdfunding page to support this:
One good thing came out of this referendum. I discovered that 99% of my Facebook friends are like-minded, politically aware and generally good people. It’s just a shame that those who decided the fate of the country (the baby-boomers now over 65 years old), are predominantly not visible on my social media. 61% of people aged 65 and over voted to leave. 75% of people aged between 18 and 24 voted to stay. And which group is going to be alive to deal with the consequences? In case you missed it, the title of this blog is the EU motto … followed by the motto of my Facebook wall today.
I was well and truly shocked and saddened when I saw that predominantly blue England. It made me want to move to yellow Scotland. Or, failing that, stay exactly where I am.